Three Arrested in California as Part of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Investigation
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Hugo Adalberto Adrian Ramirez (42, Ontario, California), Edgar Hurtado-Ramirez (45, Ontario, California), and Luis Fernando Mancillas Medina (49, Los Angeles, California) with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, up to life, on the drug charge and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison on the money laundering charge. A related indictment charging Maria Leticia-Hernandez (23, Ontario, California) with conspiracy to commit money laundering was also unsealed today, and she faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Ramirez, Medina, and Leticia-Hernandez were arrested earlier today, in the Los Angeles area, in conjunction with the arrests of 11 other co-conspirators throughout California in a related case. Hurtado-Ramirez is a fugitive. The San Diego-based Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation was led by the Bureau of Land Management and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
Today’s arrests are the latest in an investigation that has to date netted 23 convictions in the Middle District of Florida (MDFL) for drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearm offenses. According to court documents, the investigation targeted a nationwide drug trafficking and money laundering organization based in California. The organization shipped cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana from California to locations throughout the United States, including the MDFL. The drugs were shipped via Federal Express, United Parcel Service, and the United States Postal Service. They were also transported in automobiles that had been loaded on car haulers.
Co-conspirators retrieved packages of cocaine at various times in the MDFL, distributed the narcotics to lower level drug distributors in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere, and then arranged for drug proceeds to be returned to California via money couriers, wire transfers, and bank deposits. Co-conspirators used drug proceeds that had been deposited into various bank accounts to purchase items such as airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms for organization members.
“This case is the result of years of investigative work, spanning state and international borders,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “Dismantling a drug trafficking organization of this size and reach is significant to the safety and security of our nation.”
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of one or more federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from other federal, state, and local agencies as part of an OCDETF investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.
Updated February 5, 2015